Salicylic Acid: Everything You Need To Know

Salicylic Acid: Everything You Need To Know

Into the pore it goes! This week we’re taking a deep dive into one of the giants of the skincare world, salicylic acid. This exfoliating acid, unlike its AHA counterparts, (we’re looking at you, lactic acid) is a BHA (who has time to say Beta Hydroxy Acid?!). So, what’s the difference? Well, AHAs are water-soluble exfoliators that work on the skin's surface, gently dissolving the bonds between dead skin cells, meaning they lift away to reveal the newer, fresher skin cells underneath.

In contrast, salicylic acid is oil soluble, meaning it can get down inside the pores to help unclog and dissolve any debris hiding in the pore. It’s often recommended for oily skin since it can help tackle blemishes. Still, there’s more to this sophisticated ingredient than first meets the eye.

Four reasons you didn’t know you needed salicylic acid (the last one will get you!)

1, You haven’t got oily, breakout-prone skin 

Newsflash! Salicylic acid is great for MOST skin types (even dry skin can get open pores that need a deep clean as ageing skin loses tautness). First, it’s a gentle acid, unless used incorrectly. Despite contrary reports, it won’t dry skin when incorporated into a strategic formula with supporting active ingredients and clever delivery systems. It’s rare to find genuinely dry skin, more often skin is lacking in water rather than oil, and if that’s the case, it’s dehydrated. When skin is dehydrated it often looks dull with fine lines and visible blackheads, and the nemesis of blackheads? You guessed it, salicylic acid! It gets right into those pores and dissolves the debris and oil clogging everything up. It also helps to brighten dull looking skin thanks to its exfoliating abilities.

2, You HAVE got oily, breakout-prone skin

Excess oil within the skin will likely lead to blackheads, blemishes, or excess shine on the skin's surface. Essentially, oil in the skin feeds bacteria so excess oil = excess bacteria. It’s not the bacteria that causes the breakout. Still, when there is an excess of oil – it becomes a feast for the negative bacteria which spread – causing more breakouts. Enter salicylic acid, which calms oil production by delving into the skin and dissolving excess oil and debris within pores. Thanks to that unclogging, exfoliating action also helps with bumps, including ingrown hairs, enlarged pores, and may even prevent milia. Working alongside AHAs to exfoliate the skin's surface, salicylic acid targets excess oil associated with blemishes. It helps break down that oil, leading to clearer skin.

3, Hands up who has ever had a volcanic skin eruption as an adult?

Oh yes, everybody! Just when you thought the teenage years were over! Breakouts are often linked to hormonal changes and our hormones can become unbalanced at any point in our lives (hi puberty, menopause, oh and also stress). The great thing about no longer being a teenager is that now you’re armed with powerful skin knowledge and the means to implement it, so you can work with your pro and get salicylic acid into your skin routine in a way that’s right for you.

4, Your skin is ageing

You might have heard of inflammaging – which is a new(ish) term within molecular science that (surprise, surprise) relates inflammation with ageing. When the body is in a state of chronic, low-grade inflammation it can accelerate the ageing process as the constant stress of working to calm inflammation takes its toll. Regarding the skin, we know that excess oil feeds bacteria, which leads to inflammation. While controlled treatments that create inflammation can create conditions that boost collagen production (hello microneedling and laser), constant low-level inflammation can lead to premature ageing with visible signs such as wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging skin. So, keeping your skin’s oil production balanced with a tailored skincare routine that includes salicylic acid is important for skin that looks youthful for longer. Another inflammation-inducing culprit? UV exposure; the antidote? Broad spectrum sunscreen. Plus, shielding skin from environmental pollution with antioxidants and addressing oil with salicylic acid could be an intuitive way to care for your skin. Salicylic acid also has cooling, calming, soothing properties that will relax the skin rather than stressing it out.

So now you know, salicylic acid is an important part of a healthy skin routine for most skin types, not just oily skin and you might be pleased to hear that it’s hiding in plain sight in some of your favourite products. Our  Acne Balancing Serum is powered by two impressive 2% salicylic acid forms. First, the formula includes encapsulated salicylic acid, which means it has super-targeted effect in the pores and is released slowly into the skin throughout the night, limiting side effects and improving efficiency. This formula also includes non-encapsulated salicylic acid that gets to work immediately and starts its important pore clearing work! You could also begin your skincare routine with a clear out thanks to our a href=" /products/acne-clarifying-cleanser">Acne Clarifying Cleanser, which dissolves debris, excess oil and more with a formula that includes salicylic acid. Our exfoliating Bright & Clear Solution offers a daily hit of 0.25% salicylic acid alongside exfoliating lactic acid and vitamin C-rich Kakadu plum. It helps skin to look brighter and clearer and is ideal for all skin types. Our famed Enzymatic Peel with 10% lactic acid and 0.4% salicylic acid is an at-home peel that will give your skin an impressive glow thanks to all that exfoliating power. 

Salicylic acid – you need it if you have oily skin, you need it if you don’t! Get your skincare working harder for you and get in touch with your skin pro today.

Back to blog